New initiative seeks to encourage young clergy
A new initiative in Upper New York geared toward increasing the number of young United Methodist clergy is one of 29 programs to receive grants from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry's Young Clergy Initiative. The grants totaled $1.36 million.
The Upper New York Camp and Retreat Ministries Young Clergy Initiative (UNYCRM YCI) was the only Camp and Retreat Ministry in the denomination to be selected; it was awarded $26,690.
UNYCRM YCI will engage 12 young people, ages 17-19, in an 18-month program of exploration and mentorship with the ultimate goal of helping them discern a call to ordained ministry.
"Camp & Retreat Ministries is uniquely positioned to help young adults grow in their faith and understand what it means to answer a call to ministry," said Mike Huber, CRM Director. "This project will be intentional in engaging young people for the purpose of exploring ways in which God may be calling them for specific service."
The district superintendents will help identify participants, one from each district. The superintendents will also assist in identifying local clergy who will serve as mentors for the program. That process is currently underway, Huber said.
"I am deeply grateful for the leadership of those who worked on developing this exciting possibility and for making the case for its potential," said Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb. "I celebrate the gifts of all who currently serve as leaders in our Church, yet we must place before us a greater strategy to create a 'culture of call' in Upper New York that will allow us to walk alongside young people as they respond to God's call on their lives and pick up the mantle of leadership. The Young Clergy Initiative will help us in reaching this goal."
The first phase for the participants will be the August 2014 Director’s Invitational, a leadership development program held at the Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center in Moravia. The Director's Invitational design team has added a module to this experience that will focus specifically on the call to ministry.
Over the course of 18 months, the participants will have the chance to serve in leadership and support roles through a variety of experiences in local churches as well as local ministries in their own communities, including at least two internships.
UNYCRM YCI will also include a visit to United Theological Seminary in Ohio and an overnight retreat with members of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BOM).
CRM will administer the funds and the program, under the direction of Demetrio Beach, Director of CRM Program and Outreach Ministries.
UNYCRM YCI, however, is a collaborative effort that includes BOM, the Cabinet and local congregations. That is an important aspect of the initiative, said the Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding, Director of Connectional Ministries.
“Besides the direct benefit to young clergy, I’m excited this is a cooperative effort between our Camp and Retreat Ministries, the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Cabinet," said Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding. "Please help us celebrate this initiative and pray for the process and those involved."